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PP23 An in-depth qualitative interview study of female ambulance staff experiences of the menopause transition (CESSATION – phase 3)
  1. Theresa Foster,
  2. Larissa Prothero,
  3. Tessa Noakes,
  4. Shona Brown
  1. East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, UK


Background The menopause is a key workplace issue. The menopause will affect all women at some point in their lives and for most women they will experience symptoms for a great proportion of their later working life. The Ambulance service offers a unique employment setting that, dependant on the roles of female staff, can impact on the severity of symptoms and experiences of women going through the menopause transition. This study explores female ambulance staff experiences of the menopause and suggested ways in which employers can better support them.

Methods During February-July 2022 twenty-one frontline and office-based CESSATION participants across UK ambulance services were purposively sampled to participate in a one-hour semi-structured online or telephone research interview. The three phases of the menopause were represented: Peri-menopause (n =9); Menopause (n =4); Post-menopause (n =3); Unsure (n = 5). The ages of participants ranged from 42-62 years. 11 Participants worked in Operational Service Delivery (Emergency), 6 in Service Support, 3 in Ambulance Operation Centre and 1 participant declined to specify. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using an inductive thematic approach.

Results Ten themes were identified: impact on work role, awareness and preparedness for menopause transition, personal impact of symptoms, desired support, appropriate sickness and menopause policy, managerial development, compassion and dignity, impact of working environment, impact on safety, lack of choice. Lack of understanding and support from colleagues and line managers was identified as the main issue.

Conclusions The varying range of symptoms and their severity has an impact on women’s performance at work. The experience of working whist going through the menopause can be challenging. Employers should adopt a robust menopause policy which includes training and awareness for all staff and tailored for frontline staff as well as office-based staff. There is a need to create a culture where the menopause is no longer a taboo and women feel able to talk about their symptoms.

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